A new movie isn’t the only thing Star Wars fans have to look forward to in 2015, as Star Wars reunites with Marvel Comics in January.
On Jan. 14, Marvel’s new Star Wars #1 debuts with writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday. Although Cassaday is more than worthy of providing the main cover for this first issue, around 30 variant covers are being released, including many limited edition and retailer exclusives from well-known comic shops like Mile High Comics, Forbidden Planet (UK location), and Midtown Comics.
Some of the artists contributing their talents to this first issue’s cover choices include Alex Ross, Scottie Young, J. Scott Campbell, Joe Quesada, Sara Pichelli, Humberto Ramos, Greg Land, and Amanda Conner. There will also be sketch versions, movie photo images, and a blank sketch cover. The New York Toy Fair has even teamed up with Hasbro for an exclusive action figure variant cover. As is often the case, however, some retailers will offer these exclusives online for those wishing to try and amass all 30 covers.
The Marvel series’ timeline is between Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, so readers can get some new perspectives of the original characters at their prime. Lucasfilm has worked closely with the series to make sure it stays in line with the first six films, as well as the next film series to come.
This issue will be followed in February with the first of the new Marvel series’ character titles, Darth Vader #1 by Kieron Gillen with artist Salvador Larroca.
Another plus with the Marvel/Star Wars team up is Princess Leia starring in her own five-issue mini series in March, written by Mark Waid with art by Terry Dodson. It’s about time the ultimate Jedi-Rebel-Mom gets her own title.
Both the Darth Vader and Princess Leia titles will come with variant covers as well, most notably covers for both series by Alex Ross, and covers for Princess Leia #1 by Scottie Young, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark Brooks, J. Scott Campbell, and John Tyler Christopher.
Comic readers haven’t been lacking for Star Wars titles, as Dark Horse ended its successful 23-year run of Star Wars titles in August of 2014, more than twice as long as the title’s original tenure with Marvel. The final Dark Horse issue, Stars Wars: Legacy #18, concluded with a final adventure of Ania Solo and friends.
With only a four-month gap between the final Dark Horse issue and the first new Marvel, why then, is this new series such a big deal for fans?
There are a few possible reasons, not the least of which is this series solidifies the partnership with The Walt Disney Company. Not only do they now own Marvel, Disney is the studio behind the release of the new movies. Keeping this comic title in the same creative “family” will help keep the story lines from the movies and comics consistent with each other. Not everyone is pleased with Disney’s takeover of either Marvel or Star Wars, but if the response to the recent release of the Episode VII trailer is any indication, this new series will get its share of attention, for better or worse.
Also, the Star Wars extended universe has become so vast, going back to the time of the original movie that started it all is a good way to revisit familiar faces, fill in some story gaps, and answer some long-standing questions about what happened in that space between destroying the Death Star and establishing a base on Hoth. Yes, there have been some stories set in this time frame, but it’s always fun to get new angles on established characters.
Finally, this new series is like a homecoming for fans of the original series of the 1970s and 1980s. As well-received and fantastically-executed the Star Wars Universe was in the worthy hands of Dark Horse, for 70s and 80s kids, Marvel Comics and Star Wars together just feels right.
Marvel was the first to create a comic series for the saga, which spanned 107 issues and nearly 10 years. This included multiple-issue adaptations of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, along with other series and stand-alone stories.
To put in perspective how long it’s been since the Marvel flag has flown over Stars Wars comics, when Marvel last published Star Wars, the top songs in the United States included “That’s What Friends are For” by Dionne Warwick and friends and “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. Out Of Africa was best picture, the Berlin Wall was still up, a gallon of milk was around $1.92, and Colin Baker was still the title role in Doctor Who. Most importantly, when the series ended, there hadn’t been a Star Wars movie made in three years.
Today, anticipation for the new series can coincide with an entire new universe of movies, animated shows, characters, stories, and plot twists, not to mention the rumors constantly circulating on both Disney and Star Wars fan forums about the possibility of a Star Wars-themed land at Disneyland Resort. The first Star Tours attraction at Disneyland didn’t even debut until the following year after the original Marvel series ended.
Now is a very fluid time in the Star Wars the universe, and Marvel can only benefit from this constant change and growth, in terms of creating a slew of new stories and characters. Next month, it will be the fans turn to decide if this new series is as successful–or more–than its successors.